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Explosions Rock Nepal's Capital City - 2003-09-08

In Nepal, a series of bomb explosions has rocked the capital, killing a schoolboy, and injuring several people. More than 15 rebels and soldiers have also been killed in clashes between Maoist rebels and government forces. Violence has surged in the mountain kingdom since rebels called off a ceasefire with the government last month.

Officials say the bombs exploded almost simultaneously near government buildings and a police post in Kathmandu early Monday as students headed to schools and people were on their way to offices.

Security has been tightened in the capital since the blasts, which authorities are blaming on Maoist rebels. The explosions took place a day after authorities reported that separate gun battles had erupted in remote rural areas of Nepal between rebels and soldiers.

Officials say the worst clash took place Sunday when rebels attacked an army patrol near Brindabasini village, about six hundred kilometers west of Kathmandu. Several rebels and soldiers were killed. Army helicopters have flown reinforcements to the area.

The Federation of Nepal Journalists has denounced the killing of a journalist, Gyanendra Khadka. He is thought to have been killed by rebels. He was working for a government news agency, and was killed on Sunday in a village about 80 kilometers northeast of Kathmandu.

Authorities have been bracing for violence since the Maoists withdrew from a seven-month truce after three rounds of peace talks ended in an impasse in August.

The rebels want to replace Nepal's constitutional monarchy with a communist republic. But the government refused to meet their demand of rewriting the constitution - saying it will not make concessions on the country's multi-party democracy.

The talks had raised hopes of restoring a measure of peace to the mountain kingdom. Now analysts say the country could face more fighting between government forces and the rebels in the coming months. More than seven thousand people have been killed since the insurgency erupted in 1996.